Peer Review Week 2023 will focus on Peer Review and the Future of Publishing. At PLOS, we envision a future in which…
Note: PLOS is one of eight signatories on this letter. It was sent to Congress last week and posted publicly today (August 7, 2023).
Dear Chairwoman Granger and Subcommittee Chairman Rogers,
RE: Response to House Appropriations Committee release of the Fiscal Year 2024 bill for the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee1
In our capacity as representatives of leading fully Open Access research publishers and Open Science platforms, we submit our objection to the draft language2 in the Subcommittee’s FY24 spending bill3 that blocks implementation of the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s (OSTP) August 2022 guidance to make federally funded research freely available without delay.
As a group of global publishers, we share a single aim – the transition to fully open scientific communication for the benefit of all parts of society. We believe the restriction of funds as outlined in Sec 552 of the bill is detrimental to this goal. We strongly support the OSTP guidelines which we believe represent a significant policy advancement for global scientific and academic research.
If enacted, the current Appropriations Bill will prevent American taxpayers from seeing the societal benefits of the more than $90 billion in scientific research that the U.S. government funds each year, as most of the research remains locked behind publishing paywalls. And it will remove the current requirement for commercial publishers to adapt their business models to make public access to science fair. Science for the few who can access it – as opposed to the many who pay for it – is inefficient as scientific or governmental policy.
The political and societal move towards Open Science is well established as the demand for access to all publicly funded research intensifies. The retention of the 12-month embargo, as the Appropriations Bill stipulates, is a retrograde step within the global context of research and access to scientific literature.
As part of an established ecosystem of publishers, funding organizations, and governmental and scholarly institutions, we have seen prominent examples of the collaborative advancement of Open Science:
- The world’s largest subscription publishers were transitioning to open policies for years prior to the OSTP announcement, in accordance with the principles of Plan S4 and alongside the organizations of cOAlition S.5 These efforts have received strong support from the Association of Research Libraries,6 academic societies, and individual researchers.
- Funders such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation7 and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute8 have already limited or removed embargoes as a part of their funding mandates.
- Longstanding governmental efforts, such as the NASA Transform to Open Science (TOPS) initiative,9 increasingly rely on making published results of federally funded research more openly available to researchers and the public.
The United States is a global scientific leader. The inclusion of the current language in relation to Sec 552 would be a block on the advancement of US research and its influence within the international scientific community.
We would be happy to work with the Committee to develop alternative language that maintains the existing direction of Open Science policy and scientific freedom.
Damian Pattinson, Executive Director, eLife
Julia Kostova, Director, Frontiers
Gunther Eysenbach, CEO & Publisher, JMIR Publications
Stefan Tochev, CEO, MDPI
Caroline Edwards, Executive Director, Open Library of Humanities
Peter Binfield, Publisher, PeerJ Inc.
Alison Mudditt, CEO, PLOS
Brian Hole, CEO, Ubiquity Press Inc.
2“SEC. 552. None of the funds made available by this or any other Act may be used to implement, administer, apply, enforce, or carry out the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s August 25, 2022, Memorandum to Executive Departments and Agencies entitled, ‘‘Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research.”